S Africa court blocks Indian Muslim`s plan to burn Bible
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Last Updated: Saturday, September 11, 2010, 17:42
Johannesburg: A South African court on Saturday blocked a Muslim businessman of Indian-origin from burning a copy of the holy Bible in response to an American pastor's threat to burn Quran on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Johannesburg High Court issued an urgent interdict blocking Mohammed Vawda's plan to burn copies of the holy bible on the lawns of a public square.

The court ruling came on a petition filed by Scholars for Truth, an Islamic Intellectual Organisation, seeking its intervention on the issue.

Vawda said he embarked on the "Bible-burning plan" after he was "angered and outraged" by Florida pastor Terry Jones' decision and "his refusal to change his plan even at the request of US President Barack Obama."

Jones has suspended his plan pending discussion with Muslim leaders who planned to build an Islamic Centre near Ground Zero, where the attacks took place.

Vawda cited South African Constitutional protection of the Freedom of Expression, but the court ruled that the attempt to burn the Bible limited this right as it would cause offence to other citizens.

Vawda, who indicated that his intention was never to antagonise South African Christians, many of whom have also spoken out publicly against Jones' plan, decided not to burn the bible after the court decision.

He said the organisation pointed out that the Quran itself recognised the sanctity of the Gospel and the Jewish Torah, thus requiring respect for these religious scriptures as well.

"(The) applicants brought to my attention verses of the Quran that I was not aware of. The Quran says that the Gospel is part of the Quran, so if I burnt the Bible, I would also be burning the Quran," Vawda said.

"If Jones were to burn the Quran, he would also be burning the Bible," he said.

Vawda said he considered it "lucky" that the applicants had stopped him from his intention of burning the Bible.

"I have renewed respect for the Gospel and actually embrace it," he said.

Vawda made a strong plea for the US to enact laws to stop anyone intending to burn holy books.

"Obtaining this court order is a message to the Americans, showing them ways of involving the law in interdicting such conduct in future," the organisation's attorney Zehir Omar said.


First Published: Saturday, September 11, 2010, 17:42

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